Media Hits & Misses

The Orgy Porgy & Centrifugal Bumblepuppy: Amusing Our Selves To Death

  “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked…

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Did Minnesota Public Radio Give Garrison Keillor’s Bad Behavior A Free Pass?

  By Laura Yuen & Euan Kerr MPR (4/18/18) On Nov. 2, Jon McTaggart, the CEO of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media Group, posted an all-staff memo expressing his disgust and outrage over reports of an NPR news executive who sexually harassed women. The news of how NPR handled the allegations in Washington — a process that NPR’s top official admitted was slower and less forceful than it should have been — had rattled some of McTaggart’s employees in St. Paul. “I can tell you how the APM Group would address this kind of situation,” McTaggart wrote in the memo. “I…


This Episode Of ”The Empire Files” Has Been Blocked In 28 Countries: Max Blumenthal On Palestine’s Rebellion, Israel’s Brutal Fascism

  The Empire Files (11/13/15) Abby Martin interviews journalist and author Max Blumenthal on the current situation in Palestine and the Israeli occupation. This episode covers what is behind today’s rebellion, the rising dominance of far-right, ultra-racist ideology in Israel, eye-witness accounts of the aftermath of the Gaza war, and the Israeli government’s fear of Palestinian resistance. Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times Best Seller “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”, and the recently-published “The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.” Link to 28-Minute Video


Public Radio Show ‘MarketPlace’ Badly Bungles Postal Service Story

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (4/16/18) The Friday (4/13) broadcast of the public radio show “MarketPlace” included a report on the current controversy about the rates charged by the United States Postal Service for delivering Amazon orders. In a backhanded attack on the Washington Post for its excellent reporting on the Trump-Russia scandal, Donald Trump has been attacking Amazon for taking advantage of lower USPS rates. Both Amazon and the Washington Post are owned by many-multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos. Putting aside the Amazon issue, what I found troubling about the MarketPlace report was that it completely blew past the primary…


Sinclair TV Network Chairman Met With Trump During White House Visit

‘We are here to deliver your message. Period.’ By John Swaine The Guardian (4/10/18) The chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group met Donald Trump at the White House during a visit to pitch a potentially lucrative new product to administration officials, the Guardian has learned. David D Smith, whose company has been criticised for making its anchors read a script echoing Trump’s attacks on the media, said he briefed officials last year on a system that would enable authorities to broadcast direct to any American’s phone. “I just wanted them to be aware of the technology,” Smith said in an interview. He also recalled an…


Surveillance Capitalism: Google’s File On You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook’s — Here’s How to View It

By Jake Anderson AntiMedia (4/9/18) (ANTIMEDIA) — With all the attention paid to Facebook in recent weeks over ‘data breaches’ and privacy violations (even though what happened with Cambridge Analytica is part of their standard business model), it’s easy to forget that there are four other Big Tech corporations collecting just as much — if not more — of our personal info. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are all central players in “surveillance capitalism” and prey on our data. New reports suggest that Google may actually harvest ten times as much as Facebook. Curious about just how much of his data Google had, web…


Billionaires & Bytes: How Truth Lost Its Meaning In Trump’s America

“Right now there are no shared facts in America.” VICE News on HBO (3/30/18) In Trump’s America, half the population lives in a world where the “crooked media” tells “fake news” made up of “alternative facts,” while the other half fights to maintain public trust in traditional media. Much of this stems from the parallel online universe that led up to the 2016 election. Clinton and Trump supporters really don’t listen to each other on Twitter, according to an analysis from the Electome project at the MIT Media Lab provided exclusively to VICE News. “At least on Twitter, we see…


How America’s Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump’s War On The Media

Sinclair Broadcasting News Bot 2018 By Timothy Burke The Concourse/Deadspin (3/31/18) Earlier this month, CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the U.S., would be forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts. You might remember Sinclair from its having been featured…


Mainstream Liberal Media Outlets Providing Platform For Usual List Of Hawks, Spooks & Professional Liars

  By Jeff Cohen Common Dreams (3/26/18) When the “War on Terror” was launched in 2001, mainstream media—especially cable TV news—started a parade. It was a narrow parade of hawkish retired military and intelligence brass promoting war as the response to the crime of 9/11, predicting success and identifying foreign enemies to attack. We can look back at this parade and laugh at the total nonsense dispensed. But the more human response is to cry—over the toll, still mounting, of hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, and violent instability across the region, including countries…


The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica Threat: Big, If True

  On The Media/ WNYC 93/23/18) Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users’ data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn’t be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Facebook. 1. Antonio García Martínez, columnist at WIRED and former tech entrepreneur,…



VIDEO: Glenn Greenwald & James Risen Debate The Trump-Russia Investigations

Intercepted (2/21/18) JAMES RISEN AND GLENN GREENWALD have both won Pulitzer Prizes. They both have found themselves in the crosshairs of the U.S. government for their journalism. And they both write for The Intercept. But Jim and Glenn have taken very different approaches to covering the Trump/Russia story. In this one-hour special video edition of Intercepted, they go head-to-head in a debate. Glenn is one of the most high-profile critics of the official story bolstered by the U.S. intelligence community, the Democrats, and many media outlets, including some of this country’s most powerful papers and news channels. Jim battled both the Bush and…


Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker: Site Made To Exploit Human ‘Vulnerability’

  By Olivia Solon The Guardian (10/9/17) Facebook’s founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology” from the outset, according to the company’s founding president Sean Parker. Parker, whose stake in Facebook made him a billionaire, criticized the social networking giant at an Axios event in Philadelphia this week. Now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Parker was there to speak about advances in cancer therapies. However, he took the time to provide some insight into the early thinking at Facebook at a time when social media companies face intense scrutiny from…


Nunes Played The Press Like A Fiddle. Why Do Journalists Keep Falling For This Dumb Trick?

By Monika Bauerlein Mother Jones (2/3/18) It’s a weird feeling when your organization’s reporting ends up at the center of a scandal bordering on constitutional crisis. But things have been weird, and here we are: MoJo‘s October 2016 story about the Steele dossier is a key data point in the Nunes memo (though they couldn’t even get the date right—more on that later). That inclusion, and how it came to pass, tells us a lot about journalism, propaganda, and what democracy is up against. Let’s unpack that a bit. First, propaganda: Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Nunes episode is how effectively…


Dutch Reporters Offer Master Class To Limp White House Press Corps By Refusing To Let Trump Official Tell ‘Blatant Lies’

  By Julia Conley Common Dreams (1/11/18) Weeks after leaving a Dutch reporter stunned by denying that he’d made televised remarks about terrorism, several of the Netherlands’ political journalists refused to allow a Trump appointee to ignore their questions about the incident, demonstrating effective political journalism while many American news outlets are criticized for allowing elected officials to get away with blatant and repeated lies. Reporters at a press conference repeatedly asked Pete Hoekstra, the new U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, to comment on his remarks at a hearing in 2015. Hoekstra urged the press to move on from the issue, but to no…


Perverting The Language: How The Media Protects A Man Unfit For Office

  By Robert Reich Robert Reich’s Blog (1/12/18) Now that Trump has been president for almost a year, it’s time the media called his behavior for what it is rather than try to normalize it. Here are the six most misleading media euphemisms for conduct unbecoming a president: 1. Calling Trump’s tweets “presidential “statements” or “press releases.” “The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States,” Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, said last June when asked during his daily briefing how his tweets should be characterized Wrong. Trump’s tweets are…


‘The Biggest Secret’ – James Risen On Life As NY Times Reporter In The Shadow Of The War On Terror

The crackdown on leaks only applied to low-level dissenters; top officials caught up in leak investigations, like former CIA Director David Petraeus, were still treated with kid gloves.   Democracy Now! (1/5/19) We spend the hour with former New York Times reporter James Risen, who left the paper in August to join The Intercept as senior national security correspondent. This week, he published a 15,000-word story headlined “The Biggest Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror.” The explosive piece describes his struggles to publish major national security stories in the…


Republicans Twist Language When They Say ‘Reforms’ But Really Mean ‘Cuts’

By Jared Bernstein The Washington Post (12/29/17) I have a simple request to journalists, columnist, pundits, and others writing about forthcoming efforts of Republicans to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the anti-poverty programs that make up our safety net. Call such efforts “cuts.” Do not call them “reforms,” “changes,” “overhauls,” “fixes,” “reshaping,” “modernizing,” or any other euphemism that could easily be misconstrued. At least, do not do so without also clearly defining what they really are, which is cuts. While D.C. insiders speak the unique creole of our swamp, there’s no reason to expect general readers to intuitively understand…


Lee Camp On ‘Redacted Tonight’ – What’s Not Being Reported About About NPR

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (1/1/18) In the eyes of many – especially on the left – National Public Radio has a shiny halo. Unfortunately, the truth falls short of cozy liberal assumptions. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp gives a rollicking good rundown on NPR’s ties to corporate power and how those corporations bask in the “good guy” glow of being associated with NPR. The network has softened and developed a sizeable dose of  jello in its spine over the past ten years. While there will be the occasional tough interview and every once in a great,…


Destroying The Press: A Mysterious Company Bought LA Weekly And Just Gutted Its Staff

  By Lydia O’Connor The HuffPost (11/30/17) Free press advocates and LA Weekly staffers are demanding that the mysterious company that bought the news organization and gutted most of its staff reveal its identity. Semanal LLC, the secretive buyer that formed for the sole purpose of purchasing LA Weekly last month, closed on the sale Wednesday and promptly laid off nine of the 13 members of the alternative weekly’s editorial staff, sending shock waves across an industry already rattled by unexpected reductions and closures. On Thursday, the Society of Professional Journalists condemned Semanal’s continued anonymity. “In an era of rampant misinformation and…


So CBS Didn’t Know There Was Something Up With Charlie Rose? They Should Have Watched Their Damn Show

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (11/23/17) Years ago, in a previous career as a journalist, I worked for a feisty underdog newspaper, The Albuquerque Tribune. We were the afternoon paper and with half the staff fought a scrappy daily battle against the larger, locally-owned and much larger circulation Albuquerque Journal. The dramatic implosion of television journalist Charlie Rose this past week in a tawdry sexual harassment and abuse scandal had me thinking about those days, especially when I saw how CBS News reacted to the whole disaster. Pretty much every news cycle brought fresh allegations, going back years,…


America Is About To Kill The Open Internet And Small Town America Will Pay The High Price

  By Lucy Rock The Guardian (11/21/17) It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, Washington, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer. Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report…


Orwellian: The Corporate Media’s Pathological Refusal To Report The Simple Truth About Trump’s Record Of Lies

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell   By Reed Richardson Fairness & Accuracy in Media (11/16/17) It is a truism to say that everyone lies to someone. Since public officials entrusted with power in our democracy are no exception to this human trait—as historical research documents—it should be exceedingly acceptable to point out that all politicians, from your local city council right up to the White House, lie as well. The Framers afforded the press special constitutional protection in large part to ensure that such lies would not…


With Roy Moore Conservatives Reap The Nasty Whirlwind Of Their War On The Media

  By Rosie Gray & McKay Coppins The Atlantic (11/17/17) All news is “fake news”—at least if you’re a diehard Roy Moore supporter. With sexual misconduct allegations continuing to mount against the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, Moore has defied calls to drop out of the race by advancing an audacious conspiracy theory—that partisan fabulists in the mainstream media are working with his enemies in the political establishment to wage a nefarious smear campaign against him. Not long ago, such claims likely would have backfired. But in the Trump era, anti-press sentiment has reached a fever pitch on the right—something…


Here’s Why Your Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse

By Margot Susca The Convesation (11/12/17) Considering the history of television news a few years ago, iconic anchor Ted Koppel declared that CBS’ 1968 debut of “60 Minutes” forever altered the landscape of broadcast journalism: A news program drew enough advertising to turn a profit. As Koppel told it, “60 Minutes” showed broadcasters that news divisions could make money – which was a huge shift in how management executives thought of news, affecting both the quality and type of coverage broadcast over the publicly owned airwaves. Until then, broadcast news in the U.S. had been a costly requirement media companies had…


The Only One Punished Since Eric Garner’s Killing Is The Citizen-Journalist Who Recorded It

Ramsey Orta Can’t Breathe By Josmar Trujillo Fair & Accuracy in Reporting (11/8/17)   When we went to a New York state prison to visit Ramsey Orta, the young man who filmed a police officer choking Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk in 2014, we didn’t even make it past the metal detectors. Last year, members of El Grito de Sunset Park, an NYC-based group that organizes patrols to film cops on the street, as Ramsey did, drove with me a few hours north to Fishkill prison, where Ramsey was being held. We called ahead to confirm…


Corporate Media Owe Some Big Apologies For Getting IRS Scandal Ass Backwards

  By Justin Anderson Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (10/12/17) Back in May 2013, corporate media outlets expressed alarm at a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that suggested that from 2010 through 2012, the IRS had applied extra scrutiny to groups applying for tax-exempt status with conservative-sounding names. The report, “based on concerns expressed by members of Congress,” said that 96 groups applying for 501(c)(4) exemptions had been targeted for heightened questioning because of terms like “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names. Media harshly condemned the reported targeting, with Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal (5/17/13) calling…


Still Getting It Wrong: How Media Pundits Keep Steering Democrats Into The Shoals

By John Atcheson Common Dreams (9/19/17) In his Monday column at the New York Times, Paul Krugman said: “These days, America starts from a baseline of extreme tribalism: 47 or 48 percent of the electorate will vote for any Republican, no matter how terrible, and against any Democrat, no matter how good. This means, in turn, that small things — journalists acting like mean kids in high school, ganging up on candidates they consider uncool, events that suggest fresh scandal even when there’s nothing there — can tip the balance in favor of even the worst candidate imaginable.” He’s not alone. …


The Best Of What Journalism Can Be: CBS On Puerto Rico’s Never-Ending Emergency

  On The Media (10/13/17) David Begnaud of CBS was in Puerto Rico before Hurricane Maria hit on September 20. In the aftermath, he and his team reported for two weeks straight, posting videos on Twitter and sending dispatches to the network. He tracked the logjam of aid stuck in ports, the snaking lines for water, the utter chaos at the San Juan airport. In response, Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have begun nominating him for honorary status as one of their own. After a short break, he’s back on the island and still reporting. Begnaud speaks to Bob about how a recent rainstorm has made…


‘On Contact’ With Chris Hedges: The Fading Away Of The Print Version of ‘The Village Voice’ Emblematic Of Loss Of Alternative Newspapers

On Contact (9/10/17) Chris Hedges is joined by former writers for ‘The Village Voice’ Tom Robbins and Michael Musto. The New York City alternative weekly newspaper announced recently it is ending its free print edition. Robbins, now an investigative journalist in residence at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Musto, a columnist at NewNowNext, reminisce about the muckraking journalism and unrestrained commentary that appeared in the pages of the Voice. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the decline of print newspapers. Link to Story and 29-Minute Video ***** The Consequences Of Declining Local Journalism By Tom Ashbrook On Point (10/3/17) America’s local…


Media Outlets That Scolded Sanders Over Deficits Uniformly Silent On Massive $700B War Dept. Handout

  (Editor’s Note: Now keep in mind, when black ops, intel and veterans services are added, the US is burning over a $1 trillion a year for the War Department. – Mark L. Taylor) By Adam Johnson Fairness & Accuracy in Media (9/21/17) Where did all the concern over deficits go? After two years of the media lamenting, worrying and feigning outrage over the cost of Bernie Sanders’ two big-budget items—free college and single-payer healthcare—the same outlets are uniformly silent, days after the largest military budget increase in history. Monday, the Senate voted to increase military spending by a whopping $81 billion, from $619 billion to $700…


Smothering Dissent: Google Intensifies Censorship Crackdown Of Left-Wing Websites

By Andre Damon World Socialist Website (9/19/17) Google has intensified its censorship of left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites, cutting the search traffic of 13 leading news outlets by 55 percent since April. On August 2, the World Socialist Web Site reported that changes to Google’s search algorithm had led the search traffic of these sites to drop by 45 percent, according to figures by the search analysis service SEMRush. In the ensuing six weeks, the search traffic of every one of these sites, without exception, has plunged further, leading the total search traffic for the sites to fall by an additional nine…


Facebook Enabled Advertisers To Reach ‘Jew Haters’

  By  Julia Angwin, Madeleine Varner & Ariana Tobin ProPublica (9/14/17) Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you. Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’” To test if these ad categories were real, we paid $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in…


Is Internet Freedom A Tool For Democracy Or Mind-Numbing Distracting Tool For Authoritarians?

www.thecommonercall.org   By Elizabeth Stoycheff & Eric C. Nesbit The Conversation (7/20/17) The irony of internet freedom was on full display shortly after midnight July 16 in Turkey when President Erdogan used FaceTime and independent TV news to call for public resistance against the military coup that aimed to depose him. In response, thousands of citizens took to the streets and aided the government in beating back the coup. The military plotters had taken over state TV. In this digital age they apparently didn’t realize television was no longer sufficient to ensure control over the message. This story may appear like a triumphant example of the internet…



The Thankless Task Of Being Michael Moore: Liberals Have Completely Misread Trump By Dismissing Him As An Idiot

By Jessica Pressler Vulture (9/6/17) You’d think that by now They would have stopped giving Michael Moore such a hard time. Everything he portended in Roger & Me, his 1989 film about the impact of the closing of General Motors plants on his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and everything he has been banging on about for 30 years since — outsourcing, automation, corporate hegemony, moral and political corruption, elite apathy and greed, the decimation of the middle class, angry white people, the fear and loathing of the far right — all of it has come home to roost, in the form of a very…


American ‘Just-Us’ – Attorney General Sessions Considers Making It Easier To Subpoena Journalists

  Press Freedom Tracker (8/4/17) Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on August 4 that the Department of Justice was “reviewing our policies affecting media subpoenas” as part of a broader crackdown on unauthorized leaks of information to the press. Sessions suggested news organizations had endangered people’s lives by publishing stories based on leaked information, though he did not provide any evidence for this claim. “We respect the important role that the press plays, and we’ll give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” he said at the press briefing. “They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’s role…


Warnings About Slippery Slope Of Censoring Nazi Websites Fulfilled As Germany Shutters Left Wing Anti-Capitalist Website

  By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (8/25/17) In a move critics characterized as a dangerous threat to freedom of expression, the German government announced on Friday its decision to shut down a left-wing website it claims has links to violence that broke out during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany last month. “This is what advocates of censorship are spawning,” said The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald in response to Germany’s decision. “Those who advocate state censorship today are its defenseless targets tomorrow.” – Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept Greenwald has sharply criticized those who have, in the aftermath of right-wing violence, advocated the censorship of right-wing views—a position he argues creates a…


Be VERY Careful What You Ask For: People Cheer Companies Kicking Nazis Off The Internet. But Who’s Next?

  By Jessica Shulberg The HuffPost (8/18/17) WASHINGTON ― The Daily Stormer, a website started by a neo-Nazi, has promoted racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic content since it was founded in 2013. But this week, after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, several tech companies effectively kicked the site off the internet. Some of the companies that stopped doing business with The Daily Stormer argued that the website violated their terms of service by inciting violence, which major internet companies prohibit. But a CEO at of one of those firms sent an email to staffers on Wednesday that frankly…


It’s Official: Google & Facebook Are Straight Out Of Orwell’s 1984

“Nobody wants to live in the world they are creating.” Officially approved news, pre-selected history, predictive policing, augmented humanity, black box social engineering, established model officially approved healthcare, spoon feeding of what you are to know, think and believe. 12-Minute Video Evidence Of Google Blacklisting Assault On Left & Progressive Sites Continues To Grow – A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship. Truthout, a…